Bison, elk, black bear, and gray wolves once inhabited Illinois but had largely disappeared by the beginning of the 19th century. Furbearing animals such as muskrat, mink, and weasel have declined in number but are still common. A variety of small animals, including squirrel, woodchuck (groundhog), raccoon, opossum, and skunk, are still thriving. White-tailed deer, once extinct in Illinois, have through human intervention and migration from adjacent states returned in considerable number. Although never extinct, the beaver and coyote also declined in number but have since rebounded to become fairly common.
Illinois lies in the Mississippi Flyway, a route followed by millions of birds during spring and fall migrations. Species of waterfowl commonly seen in the state during the migrations include the Canada goose, common merganser, pintail, lesser scaup, shoveler, blue-wing teal, green-wing teal, ruddy duck, and mallard. Some migrant waterfowl, such as the mallard, breed and nest in Illinois if conditions permit. Upland game birds include the ring-necked pheasant, woodcock, northern bobwhite, and wild turkey. Among other birds found in the state are the meadowlark, robin, flicker, herring gull, American crow, blue jay, white-breasted nuthatch, starling, ruby-throated hummingbird, and cardinal (the state bird). There are also several species of warblers, sparrows, hawks, owls, thrushes, woodpeckers, wrens, flycatchers, and swallows. American bald eagles winter on the bluffs along the Mississippi River near Nauvoo. Among the most abundant fish in Illinois waters are carp and catfish. Other fish include largemouth and smallmouth (black) bass, freshwater drum, bowfin, gizzard shad, suckers, gars, and sunfish. Pollution and siltation of the state’s streams and lakes in the 20th century have negatively affected the fish. "Illinois" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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